Press Release
September 22, 2020

Transcript: Sen. Ralph Recto at the Committee on Finance hearing on the 2021 DSWD Budget

Ralph Recto: You had a presentation earlier on SAP 2 implemented by DSWD. We've received reports that not all beneficiaries have received their 2nd SAP. In your presentation, isn't it correct that you should have been given the 2nd SAP to 18 million families?

Sec. Bautista: This was reduced from 18M down to 14M family beneficiaries.

Recto: Why is that, when Bayanihan 1 appropriated 2 tranches for 18M families? The budget allocated in B1 was for 2 tranches of SAP for 18M families. You mentioned that in the 2nd SAP, you reduced the families to 14M, is that correct?

Bautista: Yes, madam chair.

Usec. Pamonag: We would have wanted to give the full 18M for the 2nd tranche, however the LGUs have just submitted some 14M. And I would like to mention that out of the 8.5M waitlisted which they are supposed to submit, they have just submitted 5.1M beneficiaries. So yung difference po nito is about 3M. And that was the reason why it was reduced from 18M to 14.3M beneficiaries.

Recto: Isn't it correct that in SAP 1, we were able to provide some assistance for 15M families?

Pamonag: For the SAP1, it benefitted 17...

Imee Marcos: I have here 17.9M beneficiaries targeted initially.

Recto: Now we're just rounding it off to 18M. The law provides 18M. How much did we spend in SAP1?

Pamonag: For SAP1 we have spent, disbursed P99.9B.

Recto: And that was for roughly 18M families or 17.9M families. And how long did it take government to distribute SAP1?

Pamonag: It took us about 3 months to distribute the SAP to 17.9M families.

Recto: 3 months working together with the LGUs. And when did we --- these funds? Wasn't that provided in April and May?

Pamonag: Yes, sometime April, May, and early part of June.

Recto: But roughly 95% was done in May. So within 60 days, more or less, 50% was done, no? With regard to SAP2, I would assume that the budget would roughly be P100B also.

Pamonag: For SAP2, the budget is around P94.5B.

Recto: Why is it less than the P99.9B0? E pareho lang naman ang beneficiaries na bibigyan?

Pamonag: It's because of our physical target for the 2nd tranche of SAP where it went down to 14.3M beneficiaries.

Recto: How much was disbursed for SAP2?

Pamonag: At present we have a total amount of P83.1B disbursed benefitting 13.9M families or equivalent to 97.2% as of yesterday.

Recto: I don't know if it's 97%, but 14M out of 18M (family beneficiaries) is a shortfall of 4M based on the law, and based on the appropriations. So merong 4M families na nakatanggap ng 1 SAP lang. 4M families ha. And you know SAP2 is even more important dahil SAP1 nawalan na ng trabaho. SAP2 continuing din yon, nawalan ng trabaho ang mga iyan at lumaki pa ang unemployment. Poverty incidence is on the rise.

Having said that, where is the remaining budget for the 4M families today?

Pamonag: The remaining budget is still with DSWD and we intend to use it for livelihood assistance grant which is on the recovery phase of our program.

Recto: Livelihood assistance - wouldn't that be against the law, if the law provides, under the Bayanihan 1, to provide SAP, it is clearly written in the law, for 18M families? So magkano yung natitira? Hindi ba roughly P12B mahigit? How much money is left to DSWD?

Dir. Acorda: If I may just digress to the earlier point made by Sen. Recto, in as much as the department would have wanted to serve the same 18M catered in the 1st tranche of Bayanihan1, we were tasked by the Office of the President (OP) and pursuant to the collegial decision of the member agencies of the IATF-EID that we serve only about 12-14M of the1st tranche, and then serve the waitlisted group identified by the President that also need assistance due to health and security protocols and restrictions due to COVID.

Marcos: Do you have these instructions in writing so that we can see what they contained?

Acorda: There was this memorandum dated 22 May 2020 issued by the OP and the IATF-EID interpreted that in relation to EO 112 or 114, if I'm not mistaken, specifying which areas were placed still under ECQ and MECQ sometime early May 2020 to late of the same month. Only those areas specified in that memorandum were given social amelioration emergency subsidy. And pursuant to the clamor of some of the LGUs like Cavite that their additional beneficiaries be also served, some of those belonging to informal sector and not originally target of the DSWD under the SAP1, so the OP was prompted to consider their pleas, and as such IATF-EID was tasked to consider these beneficiaries. Hence, the DSWD followed the modifications introduced by IATF-EID as a collegial body, and approved by the President that waitlisted beneficiaries be paid.

So to categorically answer the question of Sen. Recto, that 4M (family beneficiaries) that was not (met) in the 2nd tranche, was because of these instructions from the OP and to cover the waitlisted beneficiaries who also suffered because of the COVID.

Recto: Let me try to understand the statement and the explanation of DSWD. First, in the SAP1/18M (family beneficiaries), isn't it that the reason why we give them assistance is because their incomes are way below the minimum wage or minimum wage downwards. In effect, 18M families, their income is minimum wage pababa? That is the reason for the 18M target?

Bautista: Yes, low income families beneficiaries.

Recto: You are now mentioning na tinanggal nyo yung 4M families from the 18M, and you gave (to) 14M families, ano yung basis naman in determining din yung 4M families na tatanggalin? At bakit yung 14M families naman ang maiiwan?

Pamonag: We did not remove the 4M beneficiaries but the LGUs have failed to submit the complete number of beneficiaries that shall be included in the tranche 2, for the waitlisted. They should have submitted 8.5M but instead they just submitted 5.1M. (We gave) several extensions for the LGUs to comply and to look for replacements, multiple extensions were given by the secretary.

Recto: I would assume there were late sa LGUs who submitted and did not submit. Yun ang sabi nyong dahilan kung bakit 14M lang ang binigyan, is that correct?

Pamonag: Yes, that is correct.

Recto: What are we gonna do with the 4M? Don't we have a list of the 18M families to begin with? The 1st tranche? May listahan tayo non, di ba?

Bautista: What happened during the determination of beneficiaries for the 2nd tranche, we got the list from the beneficiaries of the 1st tranche. However, during the validation and process, we were able to find out that there are lots of family beneficiaries who received more than one subsidy. Meaning to say, 1 family might have received emergency subsidy from DOLE or DA, and also from DSWD. So what we did was those who we have identified as double compensation, we did not include them in the 2nd tranche.

Recto: That's clearer than the first answer we got earlier. Mas maliwanag. So iyon ang dahilan, kung bakit hindi nabigyan yung 4 M. So the 4 M, may savings tayo—how much is the savings, P12 M?

Bautista: As of now, Mr. Senator, out of the budget provided by the DBM, we still have a remaining of P10 B, and it is still within our fund. And apparently depending on what will be the instruction from the DBM, whether to return this, or to realign this to other projects for recovery, then we have to surrender this to the DBM, or return to the Bureau of Treasury.

Recto: So that is P10 B more in the DSWD. Earlier, the testimony is that mayroon kayong pagbibigyan na iba na waitlisted. Now you're telling me, telling the Committee, that it's possible that you could return it to the Treasury. The reason why I'm asking this, is marami ang nagtatanong. Halimbawa, in Batangas. Maraming hindi pa nakakatanggap ng SAP. In my hometown of Lipa City to begin with, I've heard pf complaints. That's number one. Number two, in Metro Manila. Many mayors are complaining that their constituents have not received the second SAP. Now we know the reason. Mayroon na kaming maipapaliwanag.

Now, we have P10 B available. It doesn't make sense to me that this money is returned to the Treasury. To me, dapat ito, itulong natin sa mga tao. 'Yun ang sinabi ng Bayanihan 1, na 18 M families. Your Usec mentioned that there are 4 M families, na savings. As I understood it earlier, there is a wait list. And there was a testimony earlier that the President, in a written document, told you to spend this for other things. Is that correct?

So, saan natin gagastusin ang remaining P10 B, Mr. Secretary? The testimony earlier is for a livelihood program. Who are the recipients, kung sakali? There was also testimony that there are—like Cavite, dadagdagan. Are there any other provinces, or in Metro Manila na dapat dagdagan? What is the basis for determining this next 4 M families, or the remaining P10 B?

Bautista: Actually, we were expecting that out of the initial 5 M submitted by the LGUs as part of the waitlisted, the arrangement there that they will be provided with the emergency subsidy on the second tranche. Unfortunately, out of the 5 M that were submitted by the LGU only on the numbers, but on the actual, meaning to say that we had to get the names, only 3.5 M were submitted.

Apparently, there is a lacking number for the target beneficiary. On the part of if we can provide emergency subsidy for another waitlisted, based on the arrangement, when we plan or intend to use that budget, we have to seek approval from the OP. So we are already looking into that and apparently, whatever the utilization of that remaining budget, we will have to seek the approval of the OP.

Recto: So when you say "LGU", hindi ko maintindihan. Nabawasan itong 14 M, so may budget pa ang DSWD, and you asked all the LGUs nationwide to submit 4 M, 5 M names? Ano ang basis nun? Halimbawa, kahit sinong pangalan, pwede nilang ibigay? O dapat diyan, yung minimum wage earner at pababa lang 'yan? Or selected LGUs lang--halimbawa, Metro Manila na nag-second lockdown? Or, Metro Manila, Region 4, because MM has what, 30-40,000 active cases? Region 4 has 11,000 active cases? Bawal lumabas. Maybe Region 3 with 5,000 active cases?

Are we prioritizing areas with lockdowns for the second tranche, or the remaining P10 billion, how does that work?

Asec. Glenda Relova: Since effective na po ang Bayanihan 2 Act, there's a specific provision where emergency subsidy can be given again to low income households, to those qualified beneficiaries but were not granted subsidy from Bayanihan 1. And Section 11 from the Bayanihan 2--Source of Funding-- that savings from RA 11469 can be funded for Bayanihan 2 on sections PP, QQ, RR, SSS and TTT.

Recto: Intention niyan, first, 18 M families ang tutulungan sa Bayanihan 1, two tranches. Hindi lang naman DSWD ito. Ang SAP DSWD, but there are other programs. Kung may savings, nafulfill na ang 18 M, kung may savings pa tayo from the entire gov't bureaucracy, pwedeng gamitin--tulungan pa natin ang dagdag na pamilya. Hindi natin sinabi na magdagdag-bawas, so to speak.

So that's the point I was trying to raise. The reason why this is a valid question is, maraming nagrereklamo sa baba. Hindi nila natatanggap, may palakasan daw. Narinig na natin sa LGU yan, ngayon na naman dahil nabawasan, parang lalong may palakasan, something like that. Ang itinuturo ngayon, DSWD.

And let me congratulate the DSWD ha, you guys are doing a fine job. I'm very supportive of you. But, bilyong-bilyong piso itong pinag-uusapan natin. And we know how the law was crafted. That's why we are asking these questions, para maisagot natin sa constituents na nagtatanong sa amin.

Today, your testimony is, that as of today, it is not clear what you intend to do with the P10 B. There is no final plan at the moment because you still have to seek approval from the OP. Is that correct? What to do with the remaining P10 B?

Bautista: We actually intend to use that for part of the recovery, for the livelihood assistance grant. We already have the proposal, but as we had mentioned earlier, this should be approved by the OP.

Marcos: Mr. Secretary, if I may inquire--I think your Usec who earlier spoke, said there was really no need, in effect, to go back to the OP or the IATF [interrupted streaming] ...extraneous purpose such as livelihood, but definitely as a grant under Bayanihan 2 Section 11, Q and R. Kasasabi lang po niya. Tulad po ng sabi ni Sen. Recto, bakit babalik pa sa Presidente, eh nasa batas naman na ang savings pwedeng ibigay na para sa mga hindi nakatanggap, "those not granted."

Asec. Relova: Yes, tama po kayo Madam Chair na we only need to invoke Section 11 of the RA 11494, and just ask for the DBM to repurpose the fund and to submit our specifics to emergency subsidy program, as well as the livelihood assistance grant.

Marcos: Thank you Sen. Recto, I think there is really no need to go back to OP, you just need to apply to DBM. The funds are with you, A; and B, Bayahinan 2 explicitly states that you can use savings for those not granted.

Recto: Madam Chair, just one final question on this SAP again. With your permission, Madam Chair? [Yes, go ahead.]

The Secretary mentioned livelihood assistance. Anong livelihood assistance program ang gagawin ninyo with the remaining P10 B? If you do have a plan.

Dir. Restituto Macuto (Sustainable Livelihood Program): What we plan for the P10 B, we have already made our proposal. We will be covering around 665,726 households for the provision of the livelihood assistance grant, at P15,000 per individual po. So iyon po ang aming plan, if it will be given to us to be utilized for the livelihood assistance grant. Ang tinatarget po natin dito ay ang ating mga kababayan na mga informal vendors, mga nasa palengke, mga nagtitinda ng mga gulay-gulay, ang iba mga sari-sari stores. We have already oriented our LGUs for this particular program, so they are ready now, antay lang po kami ng pondo para we can start immediately.

Recto: Just to follow up on that, one last item. Paano 'yan, hating kapatid sa lahat ng LGU? O may pipiliin lang na LGU?

Dir. Macuto: Mayroon po tayong assessment na gagawin, based po sa ating nabigyan ng SAP 1. Priority po natin dito ang ating mga vendors na nagtitinda po. So the LGU will submit a proposal to us, then we will assess kung kaya ng ating mga beneficiary na mag-undergo into livelihood. For example, kailangan natin ang mga beneficiary na mayroon nang mga negosyo dati pero natigil dahil sa pandemic. Hindi na po sila makabalik sa pagtitinda kung wala tayong additional na puhunan.

Recto: Thank you for that. May you submit this document and these plans to the Committee so we may review the same?

Bautista: Yes, honorable Senator, we will comply.

Recto: Again, let me thank the resource persons for answering our questions very candidly, and we appreciate all the work that you do for our people and for the country. Maraming salamat sa inyo. Kailangang-kailangan kayo ngayon, in fact dapat pa ngang dagdagan ang budget ninyo for next year. Sa tingin ko, dapat may SAP pa rin tayo next year eh. Maraming nawalan ng trabaho, at palagay ko may mawawalan pa ng trabaho, may mga OFWs pa na mas marami na uuwi, at dadami pa ang mahirap sa ating bansa.

So as I promised the Chair, I will not take too long, thank you for the opportunity, Ma'am Chair, and to my colleagues. Thank you very much.


Recto: Madam Chair, just a suggestion to DSWD—maybe we can hit two birds with one stone. P10 B 'yan, capital 'yan. Kung gagawa kayo ng livelihood program, bakit hindi na lang tayo gumawa ng mga mask na pwedeng ipamigay sa mga kababayan natin, o ibenta nila? Kailangang-kailangan pa 'yan, during the time of the pandemic. May demand for the masks, sigurado 'yon.

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